A biker’s life has been turned upside down after being convicted, then subsequently acquitted, for wearing an item of clothing that resembled police uniform when he rode home from work in a POLITE vest.
Darren Emanuel, 47, an independent financial consultant, has been a biker for many years and was riding his white, ex-police BMW R1200RT when he was stopped by a police officer who had seen him from the opposing carriageway.
After checking his bike over, the officer then claimed Emanuel’s choice of clothing (a white helmet, hi-viz jacket and 'polite' tabard) combined with the bike constituted that of a police officer’s. He made some notes and then sent Emanuel on his way.
Only after Emanuel later made a complaint to the police about his treatment was he called into a police station about the incident. He was then charged with wearing a police uniform, which was calculated to deceive, and the case went to court.
In the meantime, and with no evidence of wrong doing, his insurance policy was cancelled. Despite the magistrate recognising that Emanuel did not intend to deceive the public, he was convicted but handed a conditional discharge and ordered to pay £670 costs.
The story was then published by many national press outlets, sometimes with 'sexed-up' details such as claiming Emanuel was speeding through traffic with flashing blue lights.
"I had friends in other countries who read about it," Emanuel told MCN. "After the news of the conviction appeared online my job contract wasn’t renewed and my landlord served a notice on my house."
'Polite' vests have since come under intense scrutiny, however a Met Police spokesperson told MCN back in 2013 that "It does not look like a police uniform. It is merely a high visibility jacket so would not be illegal."
Emanuel successfully appealed the conviction two weeks later but the damage was already done. Following his appeal, Emanuel took out a libel case against the newspapers and websites he says defamed him, which was later settled out of court.
However, many of those publications have refused to print corrections and Emanuel says he remains out of pocket.
He told MCN: "While these items of clothing are perfectly legal, wearing one caused me a great deal of trouble, anxiety, expense, loss of my home and loss of work.
"As a result, MCN readers ought to think twice about wearing one as they may find themselves in the same situation as me."
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